Head Over Heels Hits Bway

Last week, I went to the opening of Head Over Heels on Broadway.  This show features the music of The Go-Go’s and the story of Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia.  Sir Philip was a contemporary of Shakespeare, and Arcadia is a royal romp regarding romantic relations, mistaken identities, gender disguises, and sheep.  All I kept thinking was, “Why not just use As You Like It?”  Alas and alack, no one asked me.  If you think squishing the darlings of the ‘80s into a pastoral period piece from the 16th century was easy, forget it.  Many songs fit effortlessly.  Some required a shoe horn…and possibly a speculum.  A bit more finessing of the script could have helped.  As is, it feels like a work in progress.  I say amp up the carnival atmosphere, be even more outrageous, and go full-tilt camp.  If we can accept mermaids singing backup on the Island of Lesbos during “Vacation”, why not have them waterskiing?  Use the visual we already associate with the song.  Things like that could help to balance the strong message of acceptance, equality, and choice.  But even in its imperfect state, the show is still oodles of fun and features fabulous songs.

As for the cast, Rachel York delivers classical dialogue with authority and vocal range.  Kudos to the delicious Andrew Durand as both a leading man and lady.  I couldn’t help but wonder if ye olde undergarment shoppe sold Lycra boxer briefs.  Since he looks so good in them, I’m not complaining.  You may remember Jeremy Kushnier leading the Broadway cast of Footloose 20 years ago.  Now he’s the bearded father figure – and still mighty dashing.  And, of course, Peppermint not only made history as the first transgender person in a leading role on Broadway, she also got to intone something I’m sure Sir Philip never wrote: “Thou better workest”!

The eclectic show brought out an eclectic group of celebs.  Kathy ValentineCharlotte Caffey and Jane Wiedlin from The Go-Go’s didn’t disappoint.  Gina Schock is still recovering from surgery, and Belinda Carlisle was headlining an oldies concert at the Orange County Fair.  Happily, her son (and West Hollywood City Council candidate) James Duke Mason flew out for the event – and he snagged a photo with Anna Wintour…smiling!  Let me say this about Anna – she may be a hundred years old and held together by spit and Boniva, but she looks positive radiant and, believe it or not, youthful!  The drag and transgender community came out in droves to support their own – including Alex Newell and Laverne Cox.  I had a lovely chat with Sunny Hostin from The View and Gloria Steinem from…well, the ‘60s!

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